Economics

Same as the Old Boss?

Don't count on the GOP to shrink the size of government

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Last year, I reported that the United States fell from sixth to eighth place—behind Canada—in the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal's 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. Now, we've fallen further. In the just-released 2011 Index, the United States is in ninth place. That's behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland, and Denmark.

The biggest reason for the continued slide? Spending as a percentage of gross domestic product. (State and local spending is not counted.)

The debt picture is dismal, too. We are heading into Greece's territory.

Are we doomed? Not necessarily. Economist David R. Henderson points out that our neighbors to the north faced a similar crisis. In 1994, the debt that Canada owed to investors was 67 percent of GDP. Today, it's less than 30 percent.

What did Canada do? It cut spending from 17.5 percent of GDP to 11.3 percent.

This wasn't merely a cut in the growth of spending, a favorite trick of congressional committees. These were actual reductions in absolute spending.

"If a cabinet minister wanted a smaller cut in one program, he had to come up with a bigger cut in another program," writes Henderson in "Canada's Budget Triumph," published by the Mercatus Center. All but one of Canada's 22 federal departments experienced real cuts in spending. While Canada raised taxes slightly, spending was cut six to seven times more.

These supposedly painful cuts didn't cause terrible pain. In fact, there was much more gain than pain. Unemployment dropped, the economy boomed, and the Canadian dollar—then worth about 71 cents U.S.—today is about equal to the American dollar.

If Canada can do it, we can, too. But the signs aren't good. New Speaker John Boehner, leader of the Republicans who now control the House, says he wants to cut spending. When he was sworn in last week, he declared: "Our spending has caught up with us. … No longer can we kick the can down the road."

But when NBC anchorman Brian Williams asked him to name a program "we could do without," he said, "I don't think I have one off the top of my head."

Give me a break! You mean to tell me the Republican leader in the House doesn't already know what he wants to cut? I don't know which is worse—that he doesn't have a list or that he won't talk about it in public.

The Republicans say they'll start by cutting $100 billion, but let's put that in perspective. The budget is close to $4 trillion. So $100 billion is just 2.5 percent. That's shooting too low. Firms in the private sector make cuts like that all the time. It's considered good business—pruning away deadwood.

GOP leaders say the source of their short-run cuts will be discretionary non-security spending. They foolishly exclude entitlement spending, which Congress puts on autopilot, and all spending for national and homeland security (whether it's necessary or not). That leaves only $520 billion.

So even if the Republicans managed to cut all discretionary non-security spending (which is not what they plan), the deficit would still be $747 billion. (The deficit is now projected to be $1.267 trillion.)

This is a revolution? Republicans will have to learn that there is no budget line labeled "waste, fraud, abuse." If they are serious about cutting government, they will ax entire programs, departments and missions.

I'm not confident they have it in them. I hope I'm wrong, but they're politicians, after all. I'm reminded of Spencer Abraham. When he was a senator, he sponsored a bill to abolish the Department of Energy. But then George W. Bush appointed him to head the department. Suddenly, he saw the importance of the Energy Department. "I changed my mind after Congress passed legislation in 2000 reorganizing the department," Abraham explained to his former Senate colleagues. Yeah, yeah.

That's why I fear that the new Congress will soon remind me of that line by the Who: "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.

COPYRIGHT 2011 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS, INC.
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  1. Give me a break, Stossel writes.

    That never gets old.

    1. Give me a break, Stossel writes.

      And Garbo talks!

  2. “Republicans will have to learn that there is no budget line labeled ‘waste, fraud, abuse.'”

    That’s because ALL the lines would end up being labeled “waste, fraud and abuse”, if the politicians were honest about the allocations.

    If they are serious about cutting government, they will ax entire programs, departments and missions.

    Which means: They’re not serious.

    Ax the Department of Education! No, wait! They (media and hacks and pundits) will say: we want to deny education to children!

    Ax the Department of Energy! No, wait! We will be called “Big Oil” shills or some other ridiculous ad hominem!

    Ax the Department of Homeland Security! No, wait! They will say we’re not serious about “security”!

    Shit, ok, ax the NEA! No, wait! They will say we want children to grow to be uncultured!

    Man, this is a clusterfuck! Don’t you have balls?

    Now, THOSE were cut!

    1. A less controversial (to non-libertarians) way would be to simply freeze all budgets, and forbid creation of new positions. You could slowly shrink the government through attrition (for each 10 retirements, only allow 9 new hires). Not ideal, but something.

      1. Far from ideal. Since that approach is completely arbitrary and uniform, it would end up punishing fiscally responsible programs and rewarding wasteful ones.

        I know it’s an alien concept to libertarians, but sometimes government has to do things. Maybe even increase a program’s budget and staffing! Taking a sledgehammer to the whole thing is not fiscal responsibility.

        1. So much intellectual dishonesty, Tony. Freeze =/= destroy.

          1. What did I say that is dishonest? If you have one program that wastes a bunch of money, and one program spending appropriately, how is it not punishing the good actor and rewarding the bad actor by freezing them at the same place?

            1. That’s fine, we’ll gladly freeze the worthwhile ones and gut all the rest.

              1. What worthwhile ones?

              2. I would also like to know which are the worthwhile ones. Who decides they are worthwhile? What is the ruler that measures worthwhile? What if we find out your most hated one is the most worthwhile? What if your absolute favorite one that you depend on in your life turns out to be the most wasteful? Personally I think Social Security and The Dept. of Education should be cut completely to nothing. I really don’t give a crap about your mom or your kid therefore those are not worthwhile.

              3. I would also like to know which are the worthwhile ones. Who decides they are worthwhile? What is the ruler that measures worthwhile? What if we find out your most hated one is the most worthwhile? What if your absolute favorite one that you depend on in your life turns out to be the most wasteful? Personally I think Social Security and The Dept. of Education should be cut completely to nothing. I really don’t give a crap about your mom or your kid therefore those are not worthwhile.

        2. “I know it’s an alien concept to libertarians, but sometimes government has to do things.”

          I know it’s an alien concept to morons like yourself, but limited government is not the same thing as no government.

          1. I believe in limited government too! Just limited to a few more things.

            1. A few? If you can name less than ten, you win a prize (not really)!

        3. I know it’s an alien concept to libertarians, but sometimes government has to do things

          To paraphrase Bastiat, saying the government shouldn’t do something is not the same as saying it shouldn’t be done at all.

          The question is who does it most efficiently. Do you suppose that, say, garbage pickup would cost less on net, than if people payed for their own pickup? Moreover if it were free market the cheapest would almost certainly be pay as you throw which would itself promote more efficiency and less consumer waste. Costs would be shifted to the wasteful, etc.

          More generally, what exactly has been demonstrated to be done more efficiently by a monopoly or cartel?

          1. Your unquestioned allegiance to the magic of the market is cute, but not supported by any facts.

            The reason trash pickup is done by governments is because if you had to pay for the service, some people would opt not to pay, leaving trash to pile up, or dumped in someone else’s yard. Government provides those services which are necessary to a community as a whole. And taken as a whole, a single-payer, single-administrator system is just obviously more efficient than a thousand mini-services, not least because government doesn’t have to worry about turning a profit.

            1. “Your unquestioned allegiance to the magic of the market is cute, but not supported by any facts.”

              There has never been a truly capitalist economy. You have nothing to work off. What we do know is that socialism and communism *don’t* work, so we should at least give capitalism a go. Keep borders open, and if people don’t like it, they can leave.

              1. So you acknowledge there is no factual basis for faith in the free market. Of course if something only works in theory and then only after completely upending the status quo, what use is it?

                In reality you can’t not have a mixed economy. Government will always influence the market in direct and indirect ways.

                1. So you acknowledge there is no factual basis for faith in the free market

                  Wrong. There’s is plenty of factual evidence to show that the more free markets are the better they perform and the better off people are. You can compare for an obvious example highly regulated markets like health care and banking to other more free markets.

                  In reality you can’t not have a mixed economy. Government will always influence the market in direct and indirect ways.

                  Public choice theory says you are right but their is a solution rejecting the assumption that government should have that power. Liberal economics predominated in the US for some time and intervention was very curtailed prior to the progressive era.

                  It’s likely that government will always influence markets negatively but we can argue for a change in the direction better for the people instead of the one better for the elites.

            2. “if you had to pay for the service, some people would opt not to pay, leaving trash to pile up, or dumped in someone else’s yard.”

              1.Owner/Resident- No problem. If it becomes a fire or health hazard or he can no longer manage to keep it on his own property, neighbors could sue him to clean it up. If he dumps it on public property, the city fines him. Either way it would have been cheaper to pay a trash service.

              Renter: No problem. Lease agreement should determine responsible party. Take it up with them.

              “…not least because government doesn’t have to worry about turning a profit.”

              Fed Ex has to worry about turning a profit. Why then can they provide faster/better service for cheaper prices than the Post Office? Not to mention Fed Ex pays a lot of taxes out of their profits while the Post Office requires tax money to pay for the loss it runs.

              Once more in case you missed it:

              Fed Ex-Does more for less money with a smile and pays taxes in April

              Post Office-Does less for more money with a bothered sneer and and still manages to run at a loss requiring lots of tax dollars just to keep it going. Only still around because they’ve banned competition on most deliveries.

              1. Taking your neighbors to court every time they foul up the area is cheaper than just having an orderly sanitation system? The problem with libertopia is that we’d have to sacrifice so much obviously good things in order to maintain government hatred purity.

                The Post Office–admittedly possibly becoming more obsolete with time–delivers anywhere, rain or shine, very cheaply. It is a mistake to require government services to be the equal of the best in the business for any specific task. The point is to serve people universally and efficiently. Businesses can select which markets they go into and are under no obligation to the people at large. People wanting the government to “act like a business” don’t get it at all. And they usually seriously overestimate the abilities of business.

                1. “Taking your neighbors to court every time they foul up the area is cheaper than just having an orderly sanitation system?”

                  Yes. Suing the few people who are responsible enough build up the credit to buy a house and keep the other utilities connected in order to produce trash but who are inexplicably helpless or irresponsible when it comes to paying for trash pickups until they are buried in it would be cheaper than funding a government monopoly and all the union pensions that come with it. Especially because these few trash mongrels, who exist mostly in your head, would eventually learn that they could be sued and wish to avoid it.

                  “People wanting the government to “act like a business” don’t get it at all.”

                  Now your getting to it. I don’t want government to act like a business. I want it to act like a government. I want it to stop monopolizing business interests and monopolize the use of retaliatory force.

              2. I live in a city that uses a private company for refuse services. It’s not the utopia you might think. It’s a monopoly, it isn’t any cheaper for the consumer, the city isn’t any cleaner. Their prices rise faster than Comcast with less customer service than the Post Office, INS and IRS combined. Sue my neighbor each time they foul up? K. Then only the lawyers win and I thought we are supposed to hate lawyers, no? Have the city fine them? I thought government and fines were an infringement on our rights. Plus who pays for the dept. that does all the fining and enforcing? Taxpayers? Dog forbid.

                1. What keeps it a monopoly? If their prices are so high and their customer service is so bad, why has nobody outperformed them and taken their business? I doubt it’s because nobody else wants the money and I doubt they have such top notch technology or such a flawless system that nobody can compete. Most likely, they were awarded a municipal contract which means the money is taken in the form of taxes and awarded to the city planners’ favorite disposal company.

                  A good way to prove me wrong would be to ask the city if you can keep the portion of your taxes designated for waste disposal and tell them that you want to hire a different disposal company. If the customer can’t take his money to a better competitor and keep the money he saved by shopping around, then there is no reason to think it would be any better.

                  “Then only the lawyers win and I thought we are supposed to hate lawyers, no?”

                  No, courts are important which means lawyers are important. We just need way fewer and clearly defined laws.

                  “I thought government and fines were an infringement on our rights.”

                  Not if you’re being fined for infringing on someone else’s rights.

                  “Plus who pays for the dept. that does all the fining and enforcing?”

                  Who pays for the police department?
                  You’re making me sleepy dude.

            3. Your unquestioned allegiance to the magic

              It’s not magic and it’s not allegiance. It’s demonstrated every day. Faith is believing in something that facts show is not true. That’s allegiance

              The reason trash pickup is done by governments is because if you had to pay for the service, some people would opt not to pay

              False dichotomy at it’s finest. There are better solutions that don’t require socialized service. EG tort. Moreover privatized service would be better for the environment. The cheapest service would be pay as you throw, so people would limit waste. Some people would prefer flat rate plans but those would necessarily be more expensive, so the net effect of privatization would be less waste. Of course that’s a generally true in all meanings of the word waste. Garbage collection is not a public good. It’s a crony capitalist monopoly wrapped in ‘public good’ trappings.

              And taken as a whole, a single-payer, single-administrator system is just obviously more efficient than a thousand mini-services

              Asinine assertion. If that were true you wouldn’t need regulation and bailouts and tariffs, etc to force out smaller competitors.

              You’re basically saying creating a big inefficient monopoly upfront is needed to prevent a possible efficient one developing.

              The size of business is measured empirically. Some may be more efficient small, some may be more efficient large. It changes continually. Making an assumption about the ‘proper efficient size’ of a business and sticking with it has to result in inefficiency. It’s completely unnecessary and harmful.

        4. Ok, we’ll freeze everything, and let Democrats decide what programs to axe (even the military, but only up to a certain amount). If they do a good job of axing things, then maybe the freeze will be loosened.

      2. It’s better than what we’re doing now.

    2. All boner, no balls.

      1. I christen this the motto of the 112th Congress.

  3. It’s quite simple, really. The only reason the GOP wants to be in power is to allocate resources to preferred constituencies (including, of course, the constituency that is the politicians themselves). This is the only reason the Democrats want to be in power, too.

    1. If “the government” functions to properly allocate public resources and services to the society…then anyone who wants to help decide how that is done fits your description.

      1. Re: Neu Mejican,

        If “the government” functions to properly allocate public resources and services to the society…then anyone who wants to help decide how that is done fits your description.

        And if it doesn’t (which is the reality), then Pro Libertate’s wariness is justified, would it not???

      2. You realize, of course, that we could just hand over the reins to the Russian mob and get similar results.

        1. Re: Pro Libertate,

          Or possibly even better results… There’s that risk, you know!

          🙂

        2. Do we get their babes, too?

  4. “If Canada can do it, we can, too.”

    Of course “we” can’t! Who the hell wants the US to be like Canada?

    NO! We want it to be like Zimbabwe, or soon to be named as “Bernankeland”!

    1. But I thought we wanted it to be like Somalia? We need to pick one and stick with it.

      Oh, you were being sarcastic.

  5. Reason is so cynical. By this time next year it (the Federal Government) will be all rainbow shitting unicorns. Wait and see.

    1. rainbow shitting unicorns

      Aww, that’s such a nice vision! I’m happy now! Thanks, T!

  6. Blah blah Stossel writes like a 4th grader blah blah

    1. A cheap ad-hom, and you obviously don’t have much experience with the writing skills of actual 10 year olds.

      Futhermore, Stossel is to be commended for taking the hard path of what used to be called middle-brow, without the theatrics of, say, Limbaugh.

      1. I agree. I was just pre-empting the retarded comment that gets brought up on every Stossel article here.

    2. Says the guy who can’t punctuate a sentence.

  7. Why not praise Boehner for giving an honest answer instead of making some shit up?
    http://libertarians4freedom.blogspot.com/

    1. Good question.

      I ask a similar one, “what good are Republicans if they won’t cut spending?” which has never been answered to any degree of satisfaction.*

      * = I reject SoCons as theocrats outright – they cannot possibly do any good.

      1. You know, calling them theocrats isn’t much better than calling them Nazis. It’s only a minority of the party that even is hardcore religious, and most of them don’t want rule by some Christian monarch.

        While I don’t like some of the religion they’d like to legislate down our throats, I don’t think they want religious rule or even any government that dramatically different than what we have. They just draw the lines differently. After all, “Christian” is just a label for a bunch of different sects. If they didn’t acknowledge religious freedom, the problems even within the group would be immense.

        1. “It’s only a minority of the party that even is hardcore religious”

          Citation please.

          1. You know that’s a bullshit statement–why even make it?

            Show me proof that most Democrats aren’t hardcore socialists. Or that they aren’t all witches.

            1. I’m not asking you to prove a negative, just to pay attention to a positive. There are polls where GOP voters/supporters are asked if they are evangelicals and such. The percentages I’ve seen of this are 35-39%, and that does not count conservative Catholics.

              1. I’ve seen poll numbers for polls about religious beliefs that are quite a bit lower than that, but even accepting yours, that looks like a minority to me. Besides, whether a person says they’re religious is not the same question as them saying they want a lot of religion in their government.

                1. I’m sorry, I thought you said “are hardcore religious.”

                  Oh, you did!

                  1. Again, I’m not seeing any proof that a majority of Republicans are, by any stretch of the imagination, “theocrats.” That’s where this started. In fact, I’d say not even a small minority are that.

                    Being religious (even very religious) and wanting to just drown us all with compelled religion are not the same thing.

                    I simply cannot stand attempts to teach Creationism in schools or any other such nonsense, but the only reason that’s a government issue is that we’ve been foolish enough to let the government run our schools.

                    Still, most of those advocating such things are not looking to install Pat Robertson as the God-Emperor of America. Not even close. And, of course, there’s a legitimate tension between the free exercise rights and the prohibitions on the establishment of religion.

                    1. I simply cannot stand attempts to teach Creationism in schools or any other such nonsense, but the only reason that’s a government issue is that we’ve been foolish enough to let the government run our schools.

                      Ha! If only we got rid of government schools, there would be no constitutional issue. There’d be no secular schools either, but oh well.

                      I’m not one for conspiracy theories but in this case it’s not bullshit… there is a really huge movement, allied to the GOP, to essentially bring theocracy to this country, or the closest thing to it we’ve seen. Both of my senators are in The Fellowship. It’s scary stuff if you read about it.

                    2. Ha! If only we got rid of government schools, there would be no constitutional issue. There’d be no secular schools either, but oh well.

                      There would just be schools that people wanted for their children. As an theist I can assure you I would utilize a ‘secular’ school for my child.

                      Even if you think people with few children should pay for people with more childrens’ education there’s no reason for the schools themselves to be run by the government and obvious reasons for them not to be. Once secondary reason is to obviate just that sort of conflict. Of course the primary reason would be much better educated children for much lower costs.

                      Over time monopolies always become as inefficient as they possibly can be. Which is one reason in a free market that they are unsustainable. They are only ‘sustainable’ via government force.

                    3. Unsubsidized education means lack of access to education based on wealth. That’s just reality. The only way you can guarantee universal access to quality education in a free market is to assert the existence of magical forces. Thirteen years of education is expensive. Do you think poor families could afford it all on their own? Do you think they might choose to opt out?

                      You can say that’s their right, but it’s really not. Children don’t have a say in the matter, and it’s their futures at stake. One of libertarianism’s main problems is that it ignores the existence of children. If the marketplace in which they will be participating in the future is fair in any sense of the word, they at least need access to some baseline of education. Otherwise the children of parents with money will simply be able to outcompete. And I don’t see how you can consider that a fair outcome… it’s not children’s fault who their parents are.

                    4. “Unsubsidized education means lack of access to education based on wealth. That’s just reality.”

                      Are you saying that a system where Beverly hills residents get to go to the type of school you find in Beverly Hills while a resident of South Central has to go to the type of schools you find in South Central is an improvement? I guess the question of whether you live in Beverly Hills or South Central isn’t a matter of wealth.

                    5. Are you saying that a system where Beverly hills residents get to go to the type of school you find in Beverly Hills while a resident of South Central has to go to the type of schools you find in South Central is an improvement? I guess the question of whether you live in Beverly Hills or South Central isn’t a matter of wealth.

                      Yes, that is a very serious inequity problem. So how will a fee-for-service system improve on it?

                    6. Attach the money to the kid. Let the schools compete for their funding.

                    7. “Unsubsidized education means lack of access to education based on wealth. That’s just reality.”

                      Are you saying that a system where Beverly hills residents get to go to the type of school you find in Beverly Hills while a resident of South Central has to go to the type of schools you find in South Central is an improvement? I guess the question of whether you live in Beverly Hills or South Central isn’t a matter of wealth.

                      Any Federal money that is allocated for education should be attached to the child and schools can compete for the vouchers.

                    8. to essentially bring theocracy to this country

                      Oh like warmism? You’re right. Our children are indeed being indoctrinated into the state religion.

                      Given that Terri Gross is on about ‘The Family’ I’m inclined to think it’s largely bullshit but I haven’t researched it myself. Yet I do know there’s been no ‘theocratic’ legislation passed in quite some time and so far as I see none is proposed.

                      People believe all sorts of looney shit. If they don’t try to pass laws I don’t care. I find no credible current threat of a right theocratic state. I find a huge extant threat of a left theocratic state.

                      Should this be reversed don’t worry, to you, we’ll seem to be your allies just as, to you, we seem to be the allies of the right currently.

                      In fact, as my handle might suggest, I enjoy arguing with right religionists much more than I enjoy left religionists.

                    9. You sound like an idiot when you treat an extremely well-supported scientific theory with such blind contempt. You are the one who believes in something regardless of evidence… denierism is far more a religion than believing in science.

                    10. The fact that the earth’s climate changes over time is beyond dispute. It is doing so right now, as it has been for long periods of time. What is at issue is whether or not human activity has any bearing on that alteration and, if so, how much. It’s akin to earlier humans sacrificing maidens, vanquished soldiers, burnt offerings, etc. in order to alter their natural world to assume that our actions must, because we do them, affect the world at large in any impactful way. I view AGW (or is it AGCC now?) in much the same way as I view making offerings to Zeus. Correlation does not prove causation. And the “climate scientist” record of prediction based on their modeling actually makes the Zeus worshipers look good by comparison.

                    11. What is at issue is whether or not human activity has any bearing on that alteration

                      No it’s not. That’s just the propaganda you’ve read. How about reading some of the actual science? It is not that difficult.

                      Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound positing this primal self-flagellating instinct? You’re talking about the world’s experts on the subject. Are you smarter than they? You certainly seem to think you’re qualified to psychoanalyze them.

                    12. Non-government school doesn’t inherently mean Catholic. It means anyone can make whatever type of school they want: Jesus Christ High or Atheism Academy.

                    13. So would there be government-mandated standards, certification, etc.? Or do we have a truly free market of education, where children can learn facts or they can learn nonsense, depending on their parents’ whims?

                    14. Or based on nonsense taught due to political whims?

                      Parents can homeschool their kids right now, so those whims you’re talking about already exist. Not to mention the education that parents often provide outside of formal schooling.

                      Note that while government standards have increased, quality of education has decreased. Maybe not a correlation, but there’s plenty of reason to think that increased government involvement in education has decreased the quality. So why the heck do we need government standards? The ultimate measure, really, is how kids turn out. Are they employable? Do they add to our knowledge or productivity?

                    15. Yeah kids can be homsechooled, but they can’t legally be unschooled. Even homeschools have to abide by legal standards. And until about the 1980s there was serious debate as to the legality of homseschooling, and there’s still strong debate about standards. I am personally quite skeptical, not least because so much homseschooling is actually religious indoctrination.

                      So whether government should be involved is really uncontroversial. The free market never provided universal quality education before, and there’s no reason to suppose it would in the future. Of course there is plenty to talk about regarding how it’s administered and what its failings are. But we have to keep in mind that for every kid that can get a decent education outside of public schools there are many more who can’t. One of the main reasons domestic policy exists is because children exist–principles of market fairness don’t apply to people who can’t make choices for themselves.

                    16. Statistics show homeschooled kids do better in college/universities than public or private schooled kids. http://www.thenewamerican.com/…..-estimates

                    17. I don’t deny that homsechool kids have better test scores and such. That’s not the point. It would be if you described some means by which every child could be homseschooled, but you can’t.

                      This error keeps popping up. Just because a private alternative works better in specific cases doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for a public alternative, namely, ensuring universality and minimum standards. It’s like saying we shouldn’t have food stamps because the Four Season’s Farro Primavera is to die for.

                    18. How can you say, on the one hand, that American kids are some of the stupidest(true); and on the other hand, that centrally planned legal standards for education, like we have now, should be held as a successful model. Private schools susally surpass those standards. What is their incentive to surpass rather than just meet those useless standards that the public schools both fail to meet and cause to be lowered over time? Competition with other private schools.

                    19. How can you say, on the one hand, that American kids are some of the stupidest(true); and on the other hand, that centrally planned legal standards for education, like we have now, should be held as a successful model.

                      Is there a decent country on this planet that doesn’t have public education? All the top countries in education–such as Finland, Japan,and Korea–have strong public education systems, often including free university tuition. So the fact of public education doesn’t seem to be relevant one way or the other.

                      Private schools susally surpass those standards. What is their incentive to surpass rather than just meet those useless standards that the public schools both fail to meet and cause to be lowered over time? Competition with other private schools.

                      Okay but you’re not addressing the issue of how to get all children into private schools. It would have to be through government subsidy, and at that point you’ve just got public education all over again.

                      There is no reason to doubt that private schools would perform better. They usually have a lot more money! The problem in this country isn’t that we have a public school system, it’s that we don’t support it enough in public policy. And I don’t see how making access to education even more regressive than it is will help at all.

                    20. “Is there a decent country on this planet that doesn’t have public education?”

                      Sure. All the best are public systems and all the worst are public systems.

                      “And I don’t see how making access to education even more regressive than it is will help at all.”

                      Then don’t. Attach the per student amount of money to every kid or, for all I care, exclude the upper brackets and attach all that money to every kid left and may the best schools win. My libertopia would be a little different but this would be a good start to show how affordable education becomes when schools have to compete. and now you say…but the teachers…

                    21. Great, so you get a “free” college education so you can go to work and pay 50% to 70% of your income in taxes to Finnland. What a bargain. Tell you what, I’d rather stay in America where we have somewhat more freedom.
                      http://www.libertarians4freedom.blogspot.com/

          2. It may be a bit outdated, but Religion on Capitol Hill (1982) said that no fair categoriz’n would have most members of Congress from either party be remotely considered hardcore religious.

      2. Re: shrike,

        I ask a similar one, “what good are Republicans if they won’t cut spending?”

        What good are Democrats if they don’t… uh… increase spending???

        But you’re right – what good are the Repubs if they do not reign in spending?

        I reject SoCons as theocrats outright[.]

        You mean you prefer being governed by a living god?

        http://images.huffingtonpost.com/gen/66873/original.jpg

    2. Because people prefer honest answers before they vote, not after it.

  8. Also, thanks the REason for basically recycling the same article/discussion posted by someone else, what, a couple days ago? But now we get Stossel’s take…which is the same as the other person’s was?

    This is not the first time this has happened. STOP IT.

    I’m trying to control my cynicism, but Tim’s nice visual of rainbow-shitting-unicorns only goes so far.

    Thanks, REASON!

    1. …and somewhere, John Boehner’s crying…I hope you’re happy now!

      1. You can bet that if he had a D after his name his crying would show how he is superior to his insensitive R counterparts, but since he has an R after his name those tears mean he’s a pussy.

        1. You can’t say, er, you can’t write “Pussy”, there may be Canadians reading this.

          1. those tears mean he’s a pussy faggot.

            better?

            1. Just go with bitch nigga. No one can complain about that phrase.

              1. I’m offended by that.

      2. “”…and somewhere, John Boehner’s crying…””

        Maybe he’s been watching too much Glenn Beck.

    2. I suspect the various Reason contributors wrote these blog posts earlier this week without knowing what the others are writing, so it just happens. It’s like three hip friends showing up to open mic on Friday night wearing the same leather jacket.

      Central planners do not have this problem!

  9. Yes, Tim is right. All will be well. When hasn’t the U.S. govenment taken action to prevent a catastrophe? The old line Republicans are just like the Democrats….but even more cowardly. There will be no real action taken and when the system undergoes the crisis they will all place the blame elsewhere.

    1. Someone needs to go pet a unicorn…:)

      1. We need to back that unicorn up, lift it’s tail and hit him right in the face with a blast of rainbow.

  10. What did Canada do? It cut spending from 17.5 percent of GDP to 11.3 percent.

    We need to wait and get the populace more dependent on that government spending before we cut it. For example, let’s get a few years of Obamacare under our expanding belts before we decide it’s too expensive and start the cutting.

    1. Why would we do that? Wouldn’t it be harder to cut the spending if everyone is dependent on it? (I’m seriously curious.)

      1. Dr. I recommend that you check the batteries in your sarcasm detector.

  11. You mean to tell me the Republican leader in the House doesn’t already know what he wants to cut?

    He knows that he doesn’t really want to cut anything. Why do the politically unpopular thing when you can have it both ways? Promise to cut vague waste (popular!) then not actually cut any of the (popular) programs as would be necessary to accomplish anything.

    Also, cut taxes & reduce the deficit!

    Also, free ponies for all, paid for by leprechaun treasure.

    Unfortunately, long-term fiscal soundness is not something that really matters in the context of short-term election winning.

    And spending as a percentage of GDP is high, but it’s certainly not the highest it’s been. Around WWII (when it was more than 50%) we did not suffer massive inflation and economic collapse. Compared to what it cost to get out of the first Great Depression, our spending now, assuming the economy continues to improves, suggests that we got off pretty cheap this time around. No guarantee that the economy won’t get worse (especially worrying are problems at the local level), but hysterics about debt won’t help in that case, and austerity policies will only lead to more debt.

    1. In World War II, there was a war going on. Production was directed towards a goal. Currently, government is vomiting money all over the place, but there’s no where for the production to go.

      World War II got us out of the depression, the New Deal certainly didn’t. The economy probably would have recovered quicker if the government hadn’t made so many people dependent, and focused on actually helping the economy. Instead, FDR and the gang spat $$$ everywhere without actually creating good conditions.

      I’m no expert, but your analysis is faulty.

      1. If you argue that war spending can lead to economic growth, then you’re making a Keynesian argument.

        Surely it can’t be the case that the only type of stimulative spending that works is the most wasteful type imaginable.

  12. Boehner says the right (ish) things, but at the end of the day, he’s part of the comfortable duopoly that run Washington, and is utterly out of touch with reality – have you tried to stay at a hotel in DC? $400/night is perfectly normal, because business in DC is booming.

    They exclude entitlements; but they are precisely the budget items with the biggest problems. It’s like saying you’re going to treat a lung cancer patient, but his torso is off limits.

    Same old shit. But worse, because they’ll also get painted as heartless kitten-killers because they’re so fucking useless at PR.

    1. Lots of good points. It’s welfare that’s the problem. If we cut all our spending making people dependent (HUD, HHS, DOE, other DOE, etc.) we might actually get somewhere. Get rid of the piles of paper work (we need the DoEnergy currently because it take literally tens of thousands of pages to open a power plant) and we wouldn’t miss them. The bureaucrats could go to work in industry, or (since they’re probably too incompetent to hold a working job) go back to college (the sudden influx of $$$ *might* also bring down prices enough to end government funding for higher education).

  13. And spending as a percentage of GDP is high, but it’s certainly not the highest it’s been.

    The problem is that our deficit for WWII wasn’t structural, but was only temporary, so we could afford a temporary deficit of that size.

    By 1950, our debt was 94% of GDP. In 2010, the official number is 93.5%, but that number is widely regarded as grossly understating deferred entitlement obligations.

    Dealing with our debt and deficit after WWII was child’s play compared to dealing with the debt and deficit now, because our current debt is larger and the deficit is structural. Getting rid of the structural deficit will mean shedding massive entitlement programs, which will be hugely disruptive socially.

    1. Good points. In WWII, we were spending a lot on military contracting (making stuff to use in Europe and the Pacific), not spending money on welfare. Taxes were a lot higher, too, showing that the government was trying to pay for it. Taxes stayed high in the ’50s, even though government was exiting the economy, so it would seem that they were trying to pay things off.

      (By the way, it was Eisenhower (R) who warned in his farewell speech about the military-industrial complex, which was shortened from military-industrial-congressional complex.)

  14. The 1988 Times-Mirror profile of the electorate found that Religious Right “moralists” are a 94% white group that “favor[s] social spending except when it is targeted to minorities” (p. 20).

    1. But that doesn’t make them a majority (not that I support the sociotheocons).

  15. I guess Stossel is announcing the winners of an Atlas Shrugged video contest tonight.

  16. Add some caffeine and alcohol to that lemonade.

  17. Look at all those Emmys in Stoss’s office.

  18. Tag team GOP budget cutters.

    1. Watching these two talk budget cuts is like watching mold grow on a bagel only…less honest.

    1. The buck stops at that excuse. Or at any “inheritance” from the previous administration.

  19. People on the internet also voted for Jon Stewart most bestest newsman. People on the internet are idiots.

  20. Garrett going after the Department of Education and the Department of Transportation! Dumb people don’t need to interstates.

    1. …use…

      (Public school graduate here.)

  21. Whoa, Abraham comes on to take a Stossel beating.

  22. A tax credit is an increase in spending.

    1. Shit. I was gonna recommend that they replace entitlement spending with the exact same amount of entitlement credits. Goodbye Defense Spending Hello Defense Credits.

  23. A shot at O’Reilly from out of nowhere.

    1. Looks like stachey just made the pinhead list for tomorrow’s factor.

  24. Nuclear power affirmative action.

    1. The free market is ethnically biased. And don’t get me started on the unfairness of camparing energy efficiency by Kilowatthours/$ spent.

      1. Plus your a racist!

  25. Ooo, John tricked me with that graph.

    1. Don’t forget the part where he gets on his knees and prays. Probably because he knows he’s being extravagantly optimistic.

  26. Stupid toque-wearing puckslappers and their great white austerity.

  27. They should have cut their stupid dual language signage.

  28. Sure, Canada may have a better performing economy, but when was the last time they elected a black president?

      1. Ooh body check!

  29. That kid isn’t going to make any money if his inventory ends up on the floor.

  30. They voted for the potato chip product placement.

  31. This isn’t the pair who filmed their college roommate having sex, is it?

  32. This is a Mac vs. PC commercial, isn’t it?

  33. If this guy writes something about currency or grammar on that chalkboard, I’m hitting the deck until the show is over.

  34. Reggie should take Charlette out to dinner.

  35. Those W-9 forms are going on top of Stossel’s Big Stack of Government Regulation.

  36. Reggie stole that idea from Gillespie’s FedEx commercial.

    1. Stole it!?!
      Wow you really are a racist!

      1. And for your information not every black man is named Reggie!

        1. But the (spoiler alert) winner dude’s name was Reggie, right? Sometimes I don’t get Stossel guest names right. It’s my one flaw.

          1. Yeah, it was Reggie. Sometimes I don’t get my personal attacks right.

  37. That’s it! Bush and Obama have stock in Rand’s publisher.

    1. I’ll bet she voted progressive.

  38. Spoiler alert on Atlas Shrugged.

    1. If you saw Fist of Etiquette, the giant who holds the Stossel Liveblog on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the Liveblog aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater the effort the heavier capitol l and Fiscal Meth’s unreliability bore down upon his shoulders – what would you tell him to do?
      Shrug

      1. That whole concept is ignorant of science.

      2. (Also, tell me to do more squats and leg presses next time I’m at the gym.)

  39. There’s that regulation fort. I knew it.

  40. Give me a break, Stossel writes.

  41. It’s remarkable how similar Boehner is to Pelosi. They really view the average American taxpayer with contempt (too greedy to help save “those in need”, too soft/stupid to realize “the cost of our freedom”.) Consequently, the required spending cuts will only come when the country has a fiscal crisis (surging yields at Treasury auction). Once the country is in total civil chaos, will Pelosi help the newly “needy” middle class, will Boehner cry then?

  42. The country is hard to say, is not a two people to decide.

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